Here’s a short video featuring MED-EL founders Ingeborg and Erwin Hochmair, where they talk about cochlear implants and explain how MED-EL got started
Understanding speech requires more than just hearing it – the listener also receives information via the speaker’s inflection or tone of voice. Ingeborg and Erwin Hochmair’s invention, the multi-channel cochlear implant, allows people around the world to clearly understand speech rather than only muffled sound.
The married couple’s invention consists of two components: an external processor that converts sound into electrical signals, and an internal implant that sends that information to the brain. The implant itself comprises a computer that receives information from the processor, and uniquely shaped electrodes that pass this information along.
In contrast to single-channel cochlear devices, through which patients could only discern some vague sounds, the Hochmairs’ multi-channel implant has been enabling the profoundly deaf or severely hearing-impaired people to regain their complete sense of hearing since 1980. It is still the only device ever to have successfully replaced a sensory organ.